We had been looking forward to our vacation for a couple months and when the time finally arrived to prepare for our trip we had one major obstacle to contend with: Hurricane Irma. Planning a vacation to Florida in the month of September is always risky since it is hurricane season, however we’ve done it before so we thought it worth doing again.
Hurricane Irma was not just a threatening storm, it was billed as the largest and most dangerous storm to our hit our land in any of our lifetime. After watching the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and all the damage that storm did to Texas, this was not something to be taken lightly. So we had a serious choice to make.
As the days approached it became clear that the day we were to travel to Florida was the day the hurricane would make landfall, so instead of making a foolish decision we decided to prepare for our trip but wait until we heard of a more defined path the storm would take. The problem with this is the unpredictability of weather.
Naturally (or so it seems) the eye of the storm was predicted at first to go up the east coast of Florida; then it was changed to go through the center of the state; finally it was determined the system would make landfall on the southwest tip of Florida and make its way north along the west coast of the state. This was not good news for us since our destination was the western panhandle of Florida, specifically near Destin.
Having lived for over 20 years in Florida gave me some experience with hurricanes. Working in the aviation community gave me a little more insight into weather patterns. I know hurricane paths can be predicted (to a degree) by observing other weather phenomena (like high pressure cells) and their cumulative effect. I know the less dangerous side of the storm is the western side, that storms weaken when over land, and that as devastating as the wind might be, water often becomes the greatest threat to man and property. Lastly, anyone aware of my testimony knows I had my own personal encounter with Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.
The problem with all that knowledge even combined with 24/7 news coverage is that I know the Truth, and that only God in His sovereign ways knows the precise path of any storm!
There’s a 3 hour sermon in that statement alone, but I’ll spare you for now. The final and most important factor I had to consider was that God places the husband over the family and that my priority over anything else was to keep my wife safe.
No room for bravado here; I had to decide what was the best thing to do, not just what I wanted to do. One of the many blessings about following God’s word and ways however is that He does not leave us alone to make our decisions. Sure His word says that man is the head of the household, but that doesn't mean we make decisions independent of our wives. My wife has more wisdom and discernment than anyone I know, so to not consider insight would in fact be utter foolishness.
So my wife and I did what we do so often when faced with life challenges: we prayed.
God never spoke to us and said “GO” or “STAY HOME” instead He spoke to us the way He always does, by saying “Trust Me.”
We watched the storm make landfall and saw it’s projected path; we also saw that the forecast revealed that at the very time the storm effects would be strongest at our destination, we would be experiencing almost identical conditions at our home in Georgia. Neither forecast was life threatening so it became a choice of riding out the storm in our tree filled GA neighborhood or riding it out on the beach in west Florida.
We opted for Florida
and set out that night arriving late in the evening. The storm conditions turned out not to be serious in the Florida panhandle, and we were grateful we had a beautiful following day to enjoy the weather instead of traveling.
We heard of stories from several places in Florida that the storm was not as bad as predicted; some even claimed it was overhyped by the media; yet we were grateful. As the days passed however, news of the storm’s damage became more clear and there the reality of complete devastation and loss of life set in.
There never is a “good ending” based on human terms, to devastation such as this. For all those who were spared there are always others who faced the unthinkable. In times like these one often wonders “where was God?”
Because of our faith we know the answer to that question: God was there….and through the entirety of every life storm, God is there. He didn’t bless us with travel mercies because we are good; instead He is good and thus we were blessed. Our reality is that God is good and He is in the midst of everything because of who He is; His nature is not based upon our circumstances.
Our experience would have been to our ultimate benefit regardless of the outcome. It may be easy to see here, but we have and continue to have excruciating challenges that we would not wish on anyone; yet we know we are sustained by His grace and that the struggles of this life are temporary.
The Christian faith tells us that God works for our good and His glory.
The change that occurs because of our walk with Christ is how we redefine “good,” and the peace that comes after any of life’s storms is when we finally see that His good is our good.